All aboard buses trial

SHARE

It’s now official – the Wakatipu’s expanded and subsidised commuter bus network cranks up from July 1.

After months of delay, Otago Regional Council says the New Zealand Transport Agency has finally granted approval for a 32-month trial to March 2013.

As previously reported, privately-owned Connectabus will boost existing services and add new routes to Kelvin Heights, Arthurs Point, Quail Rise and Lake Hayes.

Mountain Scene

While it’s not finally approved yet, ORC also expects NZTA to fund free off-peak travel for local elderly via SuperGold cards – Connectabus presently honours SuperGold freebies out of its own pocket.

Connectabus patronage is expected to grow 25 per cent over 2008-09 passenger numbers.

ORC says it will cost $3.13 million to fund the actual bus runs for the trial period – plus $1.5m in start-up costs for things like bus shelters and electronic ticketing.

NZTA picks up 50 per cent of running costs and 60 per cent of start-up costs – ratepayers pick up the rest.

The remaining start-up costs will be shared equally via ORC and Queenstown Lakes District Council ratepayer funds – and ORC will levy Wakatipu ratepayers for the other 50 per cent of running costs.

has been told fares will remain about the same but new subsidies will allow Connectabus to expand its route network.